‘Cut money’ blowback: Mamata’s announcement of refund leads to raids, arrests and demonstrations

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As the tug of war between the BJP and TMC intensifies in West Bengal, chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee urged her party leaders last week to make sure that the cut money is refunded. Cut money are the illegal commissions which were allegedly charged by party workers from people wishing to avail benefits from government schemes.

The move seems to have landed the party in troubled waters as now the TMC leaders are being targeted by people asking for such refunds. The situation seems to have worsened as the police have even reported cases of assault against some of the leaders, The Indian Express reported. Moreover, some leaders are being asked for written declarations saying that they would refund the cut money .

A case was reported on Monday when the Burdwan house of Binay Chakraborty, TMC deputy pradhan of Mangalkot was attacked by locals demanding refunds. Chakraborty was forced to seek shelter in the local party office and his car was also vandalised.

Similar incidents have also been reported from Hooghly, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Birbhum, Uttar Dinajpur, West Burdwan, East Burdwan and West Midnapore, a report in the Indian Express said.

On Sunday, party leaders said that TMC leader in Oushgram in East Burdwan, Ujjwal Mondal, was forced to submit a written declaration that he would refund money ranging from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 to beneficiaries of government schemes. Three panchayat members at Mangalkot in the district were also asked to submit an undertaking.

And the blowback isn’t restricted to raids and written declarations, people have taken to staging protests as well.

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More than 50 villagers reportedly staged a demonstration in front of a panchayat member at Bankura s Sonamukhi. A pregnant panchayat member in Birbhum s Fulur had to run away from her house fearing attacks by locals, the police said.

Protests and demonstrations have also been reported from Goghat, Tarakeshwar and Badangunj in Hooghly, and Nanoor and Ilambazar in Birbhum.

It is BJP s doing, claims TMC
However, TMC leaders have pointed fingers at the BJP accusing the saffron party of masterminding these attacks.

Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim said that this is a strategy to brand all public representatives as corrupt when in reality only one or two percent of the party leaders have indulged in this. Action has been taken against them and the administration will continue to do this in future, Hakim told Indian Express.

The matter has now reached the Assembly where Congress and the Opposition Left Front staged a walkout. Abdul Mannan, the Leader of the Opposition, has also demanded that a commission be formed to refund the cut money .

Police make numerous arrests
Meanwhile, seeing the situation escalating, the police has said they have acted in several cases.

Last week, TMC leader Sukesh Yadav from Malda was arrested for allegedly accepting about Rs 1 crore in cut money to give benefits under the Nirmal Bangla Mission for cleanliness. Sukesh Yadav headed Ratua s Mahanandatola gram panchayat.

Pramod Kumar was also arrested in the same case for allegedly getting his share of the illegal commision.

Last week on Saturday, the police arrested a government official in Malda for allegedly taking money on pretext of helping people avail government schemes. Posted in Ratua block of Malda district, he too was working under the same mission.